Review: ‘Gunga Din’

Aside from the feature's ability to tell a swiftly-paced, exciting yarn about British rule in India in the 1890s, it shows Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks Jr as a trio of happy-go-lucky British army sergeants who typify the type of hard-bitten non-coms described by Rudyard Kipling in his famed poems Barrack Room Ballads.

Aside from the feature’s ability to tell a swiftly-paced, exciting yarn about British rule in India in the 1890s, it shows Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks Jr as a trio of happy-go-lucky British army sergeants who typify the type of hard-bitten non-coms described by Rudyard Kipling in his famed poems Barrack Room Ballads.

Basis of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s original story, from the barrack ballad, is the outbreak of the Thugs, cruel religious marauders, who revolted against English troops.

George Stevens employs superb change of pace, going from action to character closeups and then tossing in a romantic touch.

As Gunga Din, native water carrier, Sam Jaffe contributes possibly his best screen portrayal since Lost Horizon. Eduardo Ciannelli outdoes himself as ruthless native leader of India’s Thugs.

Gunga Din

Production

RKO. Director George Stevens; Producer Pandro S. Berman; Screenplay Joel Sayre, Fred Guiol; Camera Joseph H. August; Editor Henry Berman, John Lockert; Music Alfred Newman; Art Director Van Nest Polglase, Perry Ferguson

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1939. Running time: 120 MIN.

With

Cary Grant Victor McLaglen Douglas Fairbanks Jr Sam Jaffe Joan Fontaine Montagu Love
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